The Holy Land
Its hard to even begin to explain what it was like to spend 10 days walking through the same places that Jesus did and being in the land where the bible came alive! It was one of the most beautiful, chaotic, calming, exciting places I have ever been too, and without a doubt I would go back in a heartbeat! No matter where we are, we can always feel God, but there is something different about being in His land, where Jesus lived and breathed and died, and I cannot explain the feeling, but it made the whole bible come to life, and in a sense it made my faith more real, being able to see the place where the bible happened, the places where miracles happened, where Jesus rattled the ground and shook the world with the good news of salvation.
We spent 10 days in Israel, the first five around the Sea of Galilee, touring around the places where Jesus was during His ministry. We went to the town of Magdala, the place where Jesus feed the five thousand, where He appeared to the disciples after he resurrected, the ruins of the town of Capernaum, and amazing ruins of old roman cities and grand theaters! We saw the mount of beatitudes, the Jordan River, and had an amazing boat ride on the sea of Galilee with a group if Nigerians! We did multiple hikes to see old ruins from the old testament, mount Arbel, and explored through Nimrod Fortress, an incredible, huge, old Muslim fortress that was still standing! We saw the old ruins of Caesarea by the Mediterranean sea, mount Carmel where God sent fire down from heaven, the village of Nazareth, swam in the dead sea, took camel rides through the rocky desert, and then spent our last two days in Jerusalem touring the old city!
Israel has such a different environment with such a different culture that it took a while to get use to it, and even then I always felt out of place. Not only is Israel always being targeted by countries around them, they have a war being fought right inside of their country. Not a physical war at the moment but there is so much hatred and tension between the different groups of people, and you can feel it when you are there. Its a country that is always fought over, each group believing it is their country and they deserve to be in charge of it, forgetting that this is the holy land, God's land. We saw so many religious rituals throughout our time in Israel, and especially in Jerusalem, and it hurt to see how lost these people were, believing that their Messiah hasn't even come yet, and how they are still living in the old testament even though all around them is evidence of Jesus and the life he lived and who He was.
But as I thought about how lost these people were stuck in their old traditions, unable to look past it, I realized just how lost we can be too, stuck in our worldly ways or traditions, unable to open our eyes to actually see God, through a fresh pair a lenses that are not tainted by our traditions or our own ideas of how we should live. It is so easy to get caught up in worldly things around us, that we create habits of going about life the way that God may not want for us, and maybe to us it may seem good and right, but if we do not keep our mind and eyes open to God, we will miss the opportunities to change the way we live when He speaks to us, trying to show us how we should glorify Him in the right way and how we should live each and everyday. I may not be lost in my faith like the people in Israel are, but I am lost in other ways, and won't be able to recognize that unless I open my eyes to look past this world and myself and only to God so I can see Him as he directs me through life.
Going to Israel was a dream of mine, and its hard to believe its over already and I was actually there, walking on God's holy land! I think its so important to go and see and learn about what other kinds of cultures are out there, and there's something about doing that, that opens your eyes in a different way and God can teach you so much through those experiences, on how to love others no matter what they believe, seeing his hand in nature and the unexplainable beauty of it, how blessed we are, how much we need to depend on Him with our lives each waking moment, and the riches of His love! Israel is a stunning country filled with everything from deserts, to places that feel like you are in a rain forest, rolling hills, mountains, flat plains, and the beauty of the meaning and memories that place holds, a country that will always have a special place in my heart!